Not Alone…

One thing that has always bothered me is the fact that AC doesn’t know any other kids that have hearing loss.  It may be something I worry about more than he does…  but, ever since he was diagnosed (when he was 4) until now (he’s 15) – he has always been the only kid who wears hearing aids that he/we know personally.   In school – he’s the only one in his classes dealing with the FM too.   I’ve read articles about social issues for HOH kids, and so have tried to find other kids in our area like AC.   I’ve posted about that on here before – but, it’s never really worked out.

People will frequently compare wearing hearing aids with wearing glasses – but, it really isn’t the same.  Wearing glasses will pretty much correct your vision, but wearing hearing aids never really brings hearing quality to a “normal” level.  The sound quality is much different, and there are all kinds of other factors that come into play (batteries, surrounding noises, etc).   Then, there’s the social differences.  LOTS of people wear glasses – but hearing aids? – not so much.   Wearing glasses doesn’t present the same types of  feelings of being different or the same unfortunate stigmas.

We live in an area with one of the largest Deaf populations around – but, AC doesn’t identify with  Deaf culture either.  He doesn’t use ASL.  He is learning it in school for his “foreign language”, but it is not how he communicates and he doesn’t consider himself as “Deaf”.  His family, friends, class-mates – are all hearing… and he fits in with us/them, but,   I know it can’t always be easy for him.   Well, I am guessing it can’t be really… because I personally do not have hearing loss – so how would I know for sure, right?

One of the advantages of the internet, is that it does provide a way for people to connect on some level.  You can pretty much type in anything and find a support group or fan page for it.   People just naturally want to know they are not alone, and  to tell their stories, and to maybe help others in the process… to connect.

So, I did some searching….  and found videos of other HOH people telling their own personal stories.  For some reason, girls/women seem to be more willing to share – so, if there are any other boys/men out there I wish they would speak up.  =)  Below are some of the videos.  I found each of their stories, and their courage to tell them, very impressive.  Each story is unique – but, there are common threads.  For starters, they are all not only touching, but very informative.  My hope is that by sharing them here that people who don’t have hearing loss may find them and learn from them.  Even more-so, I hope that maybe some HOH kids/teens will see them and realize – they are not alone.

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And this, no video, but nice testimony/story from a girl who started wearing hearing aids when she was 13: http://www.skill.org.uk/page.aspx?c=177&p=288

17 Responses

  1. Thank you so, so much for finding these! As a mom of a kid with a newly identified hearing loss, it’s been a whirlwind year! But fortunately for me, my daughter has been enrolled in a class (along with mainstream school) of four other kids with hearing aids. I’m not sure how she feels about being aided but right now I think she thinks it’s cool!

  2. It really is a shame so many people associate hearing aids with eyeglasses and assume they’ll deliver a similar level of “correction.”

    If someone insists on comparing hearing to seeing, a more accurate comparison would between a hearing loss and macular degeneration.

    Thanks for sharing the inspirational videos — more people need to be doing this!

  3. Thank you jjleepainter, and Rey for your comments.

    jjleepainter, that is great that your daughter will have other kids in her school with hearing aids. My son has always been the only one in his school and/or grade level with aides.

    Rey, you are so right. There is a huge difference. I think, people often just want to down-play hearing aids being “different”, so they use the glasses comparison… but, that really doesn’t paint an accurate picture at all.

  4. Hi Deb,

    As a guy with a hearing aid and a CI I can definitely relate to your son’s experiences. I grew up in an area where I didn’t know anyone else that was Deaf and that definitely did give me some identity issues while growing up. I did at times feel alone, but know that growing up with an amazingly supportive family helped a lot. Especially my mom, and I’m sure she had the same concerns that you have now. That you’re writing your experiences is this blog is a testament to how much you care and what a great mother you must be.

    I’m 20 and I go to NYU and have an amazing internship. As someone who has gone through the identity and social issues growing up, I can tell you that while they never truly go away, it does get better and easier to accept over time.

    If you have any questions email me! gigantjoe@gmail.com

    Joe

  5. Joe,

    Thank you so much for your reply and testament. I’m so glad to hear how well you are doing and really appreciate your kind words.

    AC is doing very well, we really can’t complain. He is 16 years old already, and thinking about college in a few short years – taking advanced placement classes and such a smart kid. It’s easy for his teachers, friends, and sometimes even us (his family) – to even remember he is dealing with a hearing loss because he tends to make it look easy 90% of the time. Of course, I’m sure it is not always easy… and I hope he knows I’m always on his side.

    It is so great to hear comments from people like you who can relate first hand – both for myself, and for any other readers of this blog. Again, thank you and best of luck to you at NYU!

    Deb

    • Wow! I could have written these same words about my daughter. Thanks so much for putting your story out!

  6. When our eldest child was about 2 years old we noticed that he simply could not pronounce words properly. One that springs to mind even after 43 years is “boat”. When he tried to say it it came out “ttboa”! A paediatrician diagnosed a middle ear infection, put in grommets and soon after that pronunciation was vastly improved. The scary part is that Mark would have lost his hearing permanently had we not sought advice.

    • Hi Chris. Thanks for visiting my blog and the comment. My son was almost 4 when his pre-school teacher mentioned his speech was off. That was what got the ball rolling for us too. Up until that point, and even at that point really, his hearing was never brought into question. Unlike your son, though, my son’s hearing loss was probably there at birth and so far remains about the same. Both our stories go to prove, it’s always good to get advice and seek help when there’s any doubt, though.

  7. I am a hard of hearing teenage girl (I’m almost 19 now) and I just attended LOFT, Leadership Opportunities for Teens. It is a program for teenagers with hearing loss run by AG Bell. It is for teenagers who wear hearing aids or implants or both and communicate with spoken language (about half of the kids I met knew sign language too). It was an amazing experience because I had never met anyone my age with hearing loss! I highly recommend it for your son, when he is in high school (you must be in high school to do it).

    • April… Thanks for this info. That sounds awesome. My son is 16 now… and in 11th grade. We will look into this. Were you nervous going to something like this by yourself at first? My son to identifies more with hearing kids, since that’s all he’s been around, and I think he might feel a little awkward at this point attending something like this. I’m sure if would be a great experience though…

  8. Thank you so much for compiling these videos. I have a teenage daughter with hearing loss, and she, too, feels like she is the only one! I hope AC continues to do well:-)

    • Thanks Tammy. AC started 11th grade this year. He’s taking some difficult AP classes – and, so far, so good. =) He’s also still playing cello and doing cross country and track. We are very proud of him. I wish you and your daughter much success too! =) Take care.

  9. We found out recently that my son (he is 4 years old) has hearing loss on his right ear (he can only hear 40% on his right ear). He didn’t start talking until later and he does not talk as well as his peers (I used to think that it is just his personality and that his sister talks for him). Thank you for having this blog- I did blame myself for not detecting it earlier.

    • Claudia, I’m glad if this blog was of any help. I hope your son is doing well, and you are finding your way through the various systems and resources to get him the help he needs. Please feel free to visit anytime.

  10. Hi there! I’m fifteen this year and I, too, have hearing loss. I was referred to a hospital when I failed the hearing test in my school and since then I have to visit the hospital every year to do a hearing test. But now, I’m scheduled to go every 1.5 years. It’s hard, because sometimes, during lectures, I can’t catch what my teacher is saying and I have to ask around. Also, when my friends whisper in my ear, I cannot really hear as well and in the end they have to resort to note passing. I’m also the only one in my class being hard of hearing, but fortunately I’m referred by my doctor to have me seated in the front. That way, I would not be missing out on anything. I hope AC is doing well now :)

    • Hi Ashley – I’m sorry for the delay in responding. I don’t get on here that much anymore. My son is doing well – he’s a junior now. His new hearing aids are so much better than his old ones. He doesn’t really like using the FM anymore. He mentioned similar complaints as you just did. It must be difficult to be the only one in your class… that is how AC is too. He still has a 504 plan, but doesn’t really need much accommodations. He’s in all AP classes – and overall is doing well. I know some things are still a struggle for him. I hope you both always take advantage of any technology that does help, but that you also let others know what works best and what isn’t working and that THEY actually listen to you on that. Take care, and please stop back and comment anytime. =)

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